I am from an Eastern bloc nation. In my childhood I was taught that the North Korean Navy sunk the U.S. Navy heavy cruiser U.S.S. Chicago by torpedo boat in 1950. The teaching was such:

On June 29th, 1950, the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Chicago, accompanied by two destroyers, entered North Korean waters. The North Korean Navy dispatched four torpedo boats on the night of July 1st and sighted the Chicago in the early morning of July 2nd. The gunfire from Chicago could not hit the small and fast torpedo boats. The torpedo boats made five attacks, hitting the Chicago with a total of four torpedoes. The Chicago rapidly sunk while the accompanying destroyers fled.

It was never made clear which hull was sunk, since there were has been more than one U.S. Navy ship named U.S.S. Chicago. Sources are abundant in my native language referencing this teaching. Yet I am unable to find any related information in the English language. The closest thing I could find is the North Korean capture of the U.S. Navy research vessel U.S.S. Pueblo (AGER-2).

Did the North Korean Navy sink the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Chicago by torpedo boat in 1950?

  • The Wikipedia article on USS Chicago names all four and gives their dates of service. CA-136 existed in 1950 but was out of commission between 1947 and 1958. Oct 1, 2017 at 0:46
  • 3
    Can you link to a source in your language (with a translation)?
    – SIMEL
    Oct 1, 2017 at 1:33
  • Also a small point, the U.S.S Pueblo was not captured during the Korean war, but in 1968, at the same time as the Vietnam war was going on.
    – SIMEL
    Oct 1, 2017 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


No, the North Korean didn't sink or even damage any US ship with torpedoes during the Korean War.

As the question mentions, 4 ships sailed under the name "U.S.S Chicago", the Baltimore class heavy cruiser U.S.S Chicago (CA-136) (Wikipedia page)was out of commission during the Korean was.

The cruiser visited several other ports in Japan before clearing for the west coast on 14 January 1947. Moved to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard the heavy cruiser was placed out of commission in reserve on 6 June 1947.

On 1 November 1958 Chicago was reclassified CG-11 and towed to San Francisco Naval Shipyard to begin a five-year conversion to a guided missile cruiser.


Designed to provide long-range air, surface, and sub-surface defense for task forces, Chicago recommissioned at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 2 May 1964 and was assigned to Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Nine, Pacific Fleet.

Moreover, during the entire Korean war only 5 US ships were sunk by the North Koreans, all of them were minesweepers that hit mines:

  • Magpie (AMS-25), reclassified - blew up after striking a mine, 21 missing in action and 12 survivors, 29 September 1950.
  • Pirate (AM-275) - sunk after striking a mine at Wonsan, North Korea, 12 October 1950.
  • Pledge (AM-277) - sunk after striking a mine at Wonsan, North Korea, 12 October 1950.
  • Partridge (AMS-31) reclassified and renamed - sunk after striking a mine, 8 killed, 6 seriously wounded, 2 February 1951.
  • Sarsi (ATF-111) - sunk after striking a mine at Hungnam, North Korea, 2 killed, 27 August 1952.

An aditional source about the sinking of the 5 ships.

All of the other ships that were damaged by the North Korean were hit mostly by shore batteries, and a small minority from mines (see source). None of them was hit by a torpedo, or by any other means from a ship.

  • I'm using the mobile site and I can barely read that code block; it doesn't look right. Could you please use some other format, like maybe bullets?
    – Laurel
    Oct 1, 2017 at 2:10
  • @Laurel, I changed the format to a list, but I was able to read the text as it was before just fine on the Android mobile app. If you have issues with the app, maybe you should ask on Meta (or SO meta) for how to properly use it.
    – SIMEL
    Oct 1, 2017 at 7:04
  • @simel I checked the revision. It looked unreadable to me to. Here's a snapshot. This this through the browser, not the app.
    – user11643
    Oct 1, 2017 at 14:51
  • @fredsbend What happens if you make the page mobile-friendly? (I do agree that's misuse of code formatting, though.)
    – JAB
    Oct 2, 2017 at 14:58
  • @JAB It wraps the code block, which makes it readable, but not understandable. That is a browser feature, not a site feature, and obviously, it doesn't always work well.
    – user11643
    Oct 2, 2017 at 15:05

The most similar incident I could find is:


The Americans took no losses in this incident. Furthermore,

Torpedo boat No.21 on display at the Museum of Victory of the Fatherland Liberation War, Pyongyang. According to North Korean propaganda, this boat received credit for sinking the USS Baltimore. This was despite the fact that the USS Baltimore was not deployed to Korean waters during the war.

The Baltimore would have significant propaganda value given that it was the head of the largest heavy cruiser class the us ever built. That may be why the claim was made.

In real life there were two USS Chicago's relevant to this claim.



After surviving a midget submarine attack at Sydney Harbour and serving in battle at the Coral Sea and Savo Island in 1942, she was sunk by Japanese aerial torpedoes in the Battle of Rennell Island, in the Solomon Islands, on 30 January 1943.

This first USS Chicago sank in 1943 from Japanese torpedoes.

The second Chicago was a Baltimore class cruiser laid down shortly afterwards.

None of the American ships mentioned here were ever present in Korea.

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